Christina “Thumper” Hopper grew up in an Air Force family where both of her parents enlisted and served. Her parents’ interracial marriage encountered harsh discrimination and Thumper experienced the demoralizing effects of racism on her first day of kindergarten. The shame and rejection she felt from this left a mark on her life that forever changed her. She could have become bitter, depressed, and victimized, but instead through the wisdom, support and love of her parents, she developed a deep faith in God and the power of love, joy and purpose to overcome great obstacles.
When the opportunity to fly combat fighter aircraft opened for women, Thumper was in college. She had never considered an aviation career and didn’t think it was an option for her, but her ROTC Commander encouraged her to apply for a pilot slot. After having a vivid dream about flying, Thumper took a step of faith and applied to pilot training where she earned an assignment to the F-16 Fighting Falcon and blazed a historic trail for women in aviation. She was among the first generation of women in fighters, one of only two black female fighter pilots in the Air Force, the first black female fighter pilot in a major war and the first black female fighter instructor pilot. She served in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom and earned 4 Air Medals. Her story appeared in multiple media venues including the Harry Connick Jr. Show, 700 Club, and Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Ebony magazines. She was also featured in Family Circle magazine as one of the Top 20 Most Influential Moms of 2018.
Sport also played a huge role in shaping Thumper’s life. At a young age, she took up competitive swimming and developed a strong sense of self worth, drive and discipline through competition. Her success in swimming enabled her to compete at the collegiate level and set the stage for her ongoing competitive endeavors. After having three children, Thumper took up long distance running and triathlon at age 34. She completed the Boston marathon twice, conquered IRONMAN Kona and the half-IRONMAN World Championships, and she currently competes as part of the Air Force triathlon team. Through sport, Thumper learned to do hard things, overcome adversity, and make “impossible” things possible.
Today, Thumper continues to inspire the next generation of fighter pilots as a Reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot. She also flies for a major airline and raises three beautiful children with her husband Aaron, a retired Air Force F-16 pilot and airline pilot. Doing hard things pervades every aspect of the Hoppers lives including their efforts to balance work, life, sport and giving back to the community.
She also volunteers for Sisters of the Skies.